Book in support of Carmine Bee-eaters in Zambezi - News - Gondwana Collection


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Book in support of Carmine Bee-eaters in Zambezi

Avatar of inke inke - 26. juin 2019 - Gondwana Collection, Environment


Brigitte Weidlich

Namibia's Zambezi Region is renowned for its lush vegetation, wildlife, amazing bird species and water abundance due to the mighty Zambezi River, the Kwando and the meandering water channels of the Chobe River.

But a very special occurrence tops all of that each year when thousands of feathered migrants turn the skies red to descend on a specific area from August to December to breed. This is 'Benadi' time, the local name for the Southern Carmine Bee-eater, a beautiful bird of bright crimson colour and a dab of blue with a black-rimmed tail and wings.

This remarkable breeding phenomenon is the topic of a new and special book "Chariots of Fire" by a passionate Namibian bird lover and hobby photographer Dr Pompie Burger. He enjoys exploring nature as a break from his fulltime job as a medical doctor.

This coffee table book provides a good overview of the various bee-eater species and fascinating insights into this particular Carmine colony - all in layman's language. Some 200 photos on 130 pages capture these vivid and beautiful birds' breeding cycle, their habits and daily life with short descriptive chapters and often humorous captions. 

A colony of Southern Carmine Bee-eaters came to the Zambezi Mubala Lodge area for the first time in the 1980s and started breeding at a specific steep bank of the Zambezi River. They habitually dig tunnels into the sandy banks which serve as nests. Each year they return and breed from August to December.

This place is a hype of bird activity with constant coming and going, flights and takeoffs and the occasional (bird) family feud. This spot became part of an area administered by the lodge, and the bee-eaters have become a popular tourism destination. Originally known as Kalizo Lodge, it changed owners several times and all owners put in various efforts to protect the birds, as described by the author Pompie Burger. A watchtower was erected and even bird guards are keeping an eye on the Carmine Bea-eater colony during those four months.

In 2017 the lodge was bought by the local tourism company Gondwana Collection and their staff continues the conservation efforts. In the book, Burger explains why this particular breeding colony is vulnerable and needs protection and why tourists also need to tread carefully. He further points out that in the last few years a number of birds from this colony started breeding in flat areas nearby, making them even more vulnerable to disturbances. Burger also briefly touches on the research project on the Mubala carmine colony by academics of the University of Namibia (UNAM) at the Katima Mulilo campus.

The book “Chariots of Fire” by Pompie and Helga Burger with about 200 stunning photos and informative chapters on 130 pages was published by the local company Venture Media and printed by John Meinert Printing in Windhoek in partnership with the Gondwana Care Trust. Both companies did this free of charge so that all money from the book sales can be used to support the fish guards of the Sikunga Conservancy under the Masubia Traditional Authority.

The book was published in June 2019 and will be on sale at all Gondwana lodges in the north eastern part of the country, at the Gondwana reception in Windhoek and in bookshops in Windhoek and Swakopmund. The fish guards prevent illegal fishing in the area and during the four-month breeding period they also guard the bird colony. Fifteen fish guards are employed on a permanent basis to control and protect the area. Recently, a local commercial bank has made a generous donation to the Gondwana Care Trust for this community fish guard project.

Dgini Visser of the Gondwana Care Trust said, “Conservation of our natural resources is only possible when like-minded organisations and communities work together to preserve these resources”.

New comment


Helmuth Reuter

27. juin 2019

Long live the Benadi!

This is amazing venture to protect these incredibly beautiful carmine bee-eaters and support the fish guards of the Sikunga Conservancy under the Masubia Traditional Authority.

Congratulations to Pompie, Helga, Venture Media, John Meinert printing and Gondwana Care Trust

Long live the Benadi!

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